Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to Break-Free from a Bad Habit (#3)

Good morning! I pray that you are enjoying the blessings of God today. God is so good, and faithful to us.

This week, we have been looking at nine steps to break-free from a bad habit. We are using the word break-free to accentuate each point. Let me do a quick review:

Begin today                                                      Refuse to blame others                                                             Examine MY life                                                                     Ask Christ to take control of my life

That brings us to today's steps.


This is just common sense. A no brainer. You need to avoid the situations where you are tempted. If you don't want to get stung you stay away from the bees. Another way to put it is, "If you hang around the barber shop long enough, you're going to get a hair cut."

Romans 13:14 "Don't give any chance to the flesh to have its fling." If you want to stop drinking, you don't stock a wet bar in your house. If you're having a problem with lustful thoughts, there's certain movies you don't go to see, certain TV shows you don't watch. You don't find yourself frequenting certain book stores or the magazine racks in the airline terminals. You just avoid that kind of stuff. Stay away from it.

Proverbs 24:27
"Plan carefully what you do. Avoid evil."
The secret to overcoming temptation is to plan ahead, decide in advance that you're not going to give in. If you wait until you're in the tempting moment to decide what you're going to do, you've already lost. The emotions swell up and the feelings are there, all the senses are engaged. You're going to miss it. You have to decide in advance.

For instance, if you're a single adult and you say, "I'm going to go by God's moral standard about sex." It's very clear. God says, "No sex outside of marriage." He's real clear about that. It causes all kinds of problems. You say that's your standard. You don't wait until you're at the end of a date, standing at the door to decide, "Am I going to be pure?" You don't wait until you're sitting in the back seat of a car -- teenager -- to wonder, "What's going to be my moral standard?"

When I was a youth pastor, I use to tell kids, "You've got to plan your date. If you don't plan your date, the sexual temptation will instantly come in." -- "What do you want to do? "I don't know, what do you want to do?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?" "I don't know, do you want to make out?" "Great idea! Nothing else to do." When you date, you're either going to go by your plans or your glands. One of them is going to win out in your life. You plan to avoid temptation in advance.

Ephesians 4:27
"Don't give the devil a foothold."
That means don't put yourself in places where you're going to be tempted. That may mean that you have to drop some friends. Any friend who's leading you in the wrong direction is no friend of yours. It may mean that you have to change jobs. If you are in a situation at the office, if you're on the verge of an affair, or you're already in one, quit your job. You can't just be strong and say, "It's over!" Quit your job because your soul is more important than your salary.
"What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul
." Get out of the situation. Burn your bridges. Keep away from temptation


If you want to overcome a bad habit you've got to focus on something better. Proverbs 4:23 (Good News) "Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts." The spiritual battle for temptation is fought in your mind. Whatever captures your attention is going to capture you.

The Bible does not teach resisting temptation. It teaches resisting the tempter. The more you resist something, the more it persists. You resist the devil, and he WILL flee from you. There are times that you RUN from the temptation. The Bible says 2 Timothy 2:22 to "flee youthful lust…" In temptation, what you do is refocus rather than resist. If you're saying, "I don't want that piece of pie. I don't want that piece of pie..." What are you focusing on the whole time? The piece of pie! This is why diets do not work. The whole time you're on a diet, what are you focusing on most? Food. What do you think about most? Food. You think far more about food when you're on a diet than any other time in your life. That's why they don't work. Instead you need to focus on something else.

When you are tempted you don't say, "No, no..." -- just change mental channels. Get up. Walk around the room, walk outside, read a book, call a friend, take a shower. Do whatever you have to do to cut yourself off from the tempting source. Refocus on something else. The Bible Proverbs 4:23
(GN)"Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts."

Some of you are thinking, "What's wrong with a few little thoughts? They're not harmful. It's just a harmless fantasy." You're kidding yourself. The Bible says your thoughts determine your life and if you think a truth or think an idea over and over and over, it's inevitably, eventually, going to come out in your behavior. You say, "I can watch this kind of stuff. It doesn't bother me. I can think these kinds of thoughts. I can listen to this." You're kidding yourself. It's like adding little pebbles to that scale in your mind. Pretty soon it's going to tip and you're going to stumble. Your thoughts determine your life. In fact, if you didn't have any thoughts, you wouldn't have any life. It's not harmless.

Philippians 4:8 (GN) "Fill your mind with things that are good and deserve praise. Things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honorable." Fill your mind with good things. This is the Principle of Replacement. The Principle of Replacement is built on the concept, the idea, the truth that nature abhors a vacuum. Vacuums are not a natural state -- at lease on this planet. So nature immediately seeks to fill a vacuum.

When you say, "My gas tank is empty." It's not really empty. It's just been replaced with air. When you run out of gas, you don't have a vacuum in there. It's not really empty. Your gas tank is either filled with gas or with air. One replaces the other. So your gas tank is never really empty.

You may think, "My mind is empty" (or maybe your kids think that). But it's never really empty. It's always filled with something. So when you say, "I'm going to stop thinking this way." It doesn't work. The whole time you're focusing on what you don't want.

The way you get rid of a bad thought is replace it with a good one. When we push the Word of God in the front, the bad idea goes out the back. Replace it. Paul tells us, "Fill your mind with good things."

This is one of the ways you grow spiritually, by reprogramming your mind with new thought patterns. Replace old ways of thinking with new ways of thinking. Put off the old man, put on the new. The Bible says in Romans 12:2
"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Focus on something better.

I love you guys, and thank God for the Victory and freedom that we have through Jesus Christ! Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty